Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s story about her kitchen discos is a valuable lesson in silencing our inner critic

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Christobel Hastings
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Sophie Ellis-Bextor became a lockdown saviour for her joyful kitchen discos - but her toxic inner critic nearly stopped her from performing.

When the pandemic put a stop to going out to nightlife-as-we-know-it, many of us assumed that it’d be a while before we could get dressed up, sing our hearts out and dance like no-one was watching.

Then along came Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and suddenly, we had lockdown gigs in the diary.

Not IRL gigs, of course, but kitchen discos: joyful live concerts streamed directly from inside the pop singer’s house.

Every Friday, while we hunkered down inside our homes, the multiplatinum selling artist would don her sequins and perform her biggest hits over Instagram Live, filmed with the dutiful help of husband Richard Jones. Every now and again we’d also get a cameo from the couple’s five children – Sonny, Kit, Ray, Jesse and Mickey – which perfectly encapsulated the spirit of our new at-home existences.

The weekly discos became a valuable form of escapism and catharsis for many of us stuck indoors, and showed the singer doing what she does best: bringing people together through the power of music.

In a new interview, however, the singer revealed that the she was initially hesitant about undertaking the gigs, fearing that she would be judged harshly for her endeavour to cheer people up.

Speaking on The Graham Norton Show’s New Year’s Eve special, Ellis-Bextor explained how she was encouraged by her husband to perform her kitchen discos as a means to help ease the stress of family life during lockdown.

“During the lockdown we felt completely discombobulated stuck at home with our five kids, the stress and tension of our family life, and the heaviness of the news,” she began. “We felt totally useless. So, Richard suggested we do a gig on a Friday as a family to cope. It felt insane doing it live and actually broadcasting it but something about it appealed to me.”

The singer went on to explain that she was convinced she’d receive a negative reaction from viewers, despite her chart success and impressive longevity in the industry.

“We started it at the beginning of lockdown and I really thought people were going to laugh at me, but we felt really good afterwards and our brains were tricked into thinking we had just done a gig. We got such a warm response.”

As we all know, the discos went down a storm. So much so that Ellis-Bextor recently announced that she will be bringing her lockdown shows to life with her Kitchen Disco tour next summer, as well a dropping a brand new album, Songs From The Kitchen Disco, inspired by them.

“I have news! No, not another baby! It’s a Kitchen Disco UK tour! And an album, Songs From The Kitchen Disco! It has all my singles in one place, plus some covers,” she wrote on Instagram.

“During lockdown, our family kitchen discos became a precious time where we could all bop about and be a bit silly. It made me feel connected to everyone who joined us and I can honestly say the music was a real tonic which brought sparkly joy to my soul every Friday. ‘The discos we shared have inspired me and now I want to see all your faces so I can sing for you. I want to give everyone a night where just for a little while, we can all lose ourselves under the mirror ball and dance and have fun. Won’t that feel magical?! I CANNOT WAIT!”

That Ellis-Bextor was able to push forward with her vision in the face of niggling doubts is seriously inspiring, not least because she brought so much joy to the nation during one of the most challenging years on record. 

There’s a valuable lesson for us all here, too. Ellis-Bextor’s troublesome inner critic told her that she would be a failure; but it wasn’t her real voice talking, just a combination of insecurities, criticism and past experiences sabotaging her self-belief. What mattered was that she persisted with her performances, and discredited those negative thought patterns with real evidence proving their invalidity, like the outpouring of love from the nation.

You can see the evidence of it in her Instagram post. The confidence, joy, self-belief. Her own, authentic voice is now the loudest, and it’s wonderful to watch.

Images: Instagram; Getty

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